A Penn State Nittany Lion statue is seen in the courtyard of Penn State College of Medicine in Summer 2016. The statue is in focus toward the right side of the image. Out of focus in the background, green plants and trees are visible in the courtyard.

Neurology 3+4 Accelerated MD Pathway

Building a Pathway to Neurology

Penn State College of Medicine's 3+ Neurology Accelerated Pathway (N-APPS) is a three-year accelerated MD specialty pathway leading to early entry in the four-year Neurology Residency at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

The benefits of the N-APPS program include:

  • Reduction of the cost of medical education and travel expenses for residency application
  • Earlier career entry
  • Linked undergraduate and graduate medical education, which optimizes opportunities for continuity of patient care, mentoring and advising

Upon meeting the academic and professional standards for graduation from medical school, students are ranked to match into a Penn State Health residency program through the National Resident Matching Program®.

Pathway Details

What is N-APPS exactly?

The 3+ N-APPS pathway enables students to complete their medical degree in three years, followed by neurology residency at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. The Penn State Health Neurology Residency is a categorical program in which residents do a preliminary year in internal medicine and three years of neurology.

Applicants in this pathway have been offered acceptance to Penn State College of Medicine and demonstrated strong academic performance at the time of application. Students in the N-APPS program will complete core requirements and achieve schoolwide competencies within three years of matriculation.

Because the 3+ N-APPS pathway is an immersive experience in students’ neurology professional development, it will contribute to advancing students' career paths in neurology. Since students will receive longitudinal mentoring and guidance in their identity formation by dedicated faculty neurologists and acculturation during medical school from the faculty in the Department of Neurology, it is anticipated that students will possess strong readiness to enter their residency.

How many students do you accept each year?

Up to two students will be accepted into the pathway per year.

Will I need to enter the National Resident Matching Program?

Yes. The Penn State Health Neurology Residency can accept students through the match only. Therefore, you must enter the NRMP matching process.

Upon meeting the academic and professional standards for graduation from medical school, students are ranked to match into the Penn State Health Neurology Residency program through the National Resident Matching Program®. Should students choose to rank Penn State, they would match into a Neurology residency position at Penn State Health.

What are the pathway objectives?

  • To provide a curriculum that allows students to complete all graduation requirements toward the MD degree in a three-year time frame
  • To provide the appropriate mentorship to support the students’ training with the goal that graduates of the N-APPS program will be prepared to assume the responsibilities of residency in neurology
  • To develop a UME-GME continuum of training to enhance mentorship and reduce fragmentation in medical training

By the end of this pathway, the student will:

  • Accomplish all graduation requirements in three-year time frame
  • Identify longitudinal career mentors in the Department of Neurology as part of the process of identifying with their chosen specialty
  • Be prepared to engage in scholarly activity during residency through deliberate and intentional research activities during the Medical Student Research project phase of the N-APPS curriculum

What does the curriculum involve?

The program is divided into two phases:

Phase I, Foundations of Medicine (pre-clerkship)

  • Phase I will be the same for students in N-APPS as students in the four-year curriculum, except certain Phase II courses and electives are offered early to permit acceleration.
  • In the spring of the first year, students will enroll in a career confirmation elective (CCE) similar to other 3+ track early residency curricula currently in place at the College of Medicine. CCE will be held during afternoon hours to avoid conflict with other Phase I curricular requirements.
  • Students will also enroll in electives and clerkships during the summer between the first and second academic year.
  • In the second year of Phase I, the student will complete the longitudinal neurology clerkship.

Phase II, Clinical Core Clerkships

  • During Phase II, N-APPS students will complete the neurology acting internship and the remainder of the usual Phase II clerkships (health equity, internal medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, OB/GYN and surgery) in the block model. They will continue to accelerate by completing an outpatient longitudinal Acting Internship in neurology.
  • Following the completion of Phase II, N-APPS students will take a rotation in the Medical Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or Neuro ICU. Additional coursework, including Translating Health Systems Science to the Clinical Setting, electives, Humanities Selective, and Transitions to Internship, will provide students with the requisite courses to meet graduation coursework requirements.

What deliverables are expected of students in the program?

Students in all 3+ tracks, including N-APPS, must meet the same educational objectives/subcompetencies and graduation requirements as the four-year program. However, in the 3+ tracks, career exploration electives in Phase II and certain electives are waived.

All students in 3+ tracks must complete a minimum of eight weeks of electives and a medical student research project.

The methods of assessment in the N-APPS track will be identical to those of the main four-year program, including completion of a portfolio to provide documentation of meeting subcompetencies.

What if I decide that neurology isn’t for me, or that the Penn State Neurology Department isn’t where I want to do my residency?

Students may opt out of the N-APPS track and re-enter the regular program at any time.

Application Process

Students may apply for entry into the N-APPS pathway at two points – after acceptance into the MD program at Penn State College of Medicine and before matriculation, or in the fall of their first year of study.

Once accepted to Penn State College of Medicine, students may submit a secondary application to the specific pathway of interest to them.

Students in good academic standing will be invited for interviews. A second call for applications, depending on the availability of positions, will occur in the fall of the first year of medical school.

The ideal student candidate:

  • is a self-directed learner with a strong academic background;
  • possesses good organizational skills; and
  • demonstrates a strong interest in neurology.

A selection committee composed of neurology faculty who teach medical students and residents will interview applicants and make the final selection for N-APPS.

Students in the N-APPS track must maintain good academic standing. A student who fails to meet expectations in any courses or subcompetencies will re-enter the four-year program with earned course credits carried over to the four-year program.

Pathway Faculty


Max Lowden, MD, FAAN
Penn State Health Neurology
Mailcode EC037
Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
30 Hope Dr.
Suite 2800, Building A
Hershey, PA 17033

Phone: 717-531-0003, ext. 283445

Email: NAPPS@pennstatehealth.psu.edu

A portrait photograph of Dr. Max Lowden in front of a professional photo background.
Max Lowden, MD, FAAN


Charmaine Hess

Email: NAPPS@pennstatehealth.psu.edu


  • Natalie Aucutt-Walter, MD
  • Sol De Jesus, MD
  • Tiffany Fisher, MD, PhD
  • Krish Sathian, MD, MBBS, PhD, FANA, FASNR, FAAN

Contact Us

Additional questions and inquiries can be made to:

Max Lowden, MD, FAAN
Penn State Health Neurology
Mail Code EC037
Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
30 Hope Dr.
Suite 2800, Building A
Hershey, PA 17033

Phone: 717-531-0003, ext. 283445

Email: NAPPS@pennstatehealth.psu.edu

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